This piece is dedicated to Wendy, one of my oldest and dearest friends. Thank you for being you.
About four months ago, I reconnected with my best friend after an eight-month falling out. We had gotten into a fight that was nastier than either of us had expected and we were both stubborn. Hurt by the things the other had said, neither of us wanted to be the first to reach out or apologize. There was a sudden abruptness to the way our friendship fell apart, especially since we had always texted multiple times throughout the day. It felt horrible, but since neither of us were willing to budge, things between us remained unresolved.
Four months ago, I went on a yoga retreat where I re-evaluated a lot of things in my life and one of the things that came up was that I missed my best friend. We met at summer camp years ago when we were both in high school and had seen each other go through all kinds of ups and downs throughout high school, college, and post-grad life. Out of nowhere, it felt like whatever we fought about eight months ago no longer mattered. It wasn’t important who started it or who said what. I just wanted to be able to talk to my best friend again. So, I sent her an email asking how she was doing and that I missed her. I didn’t want to re-hash things, but I did want to hear what she had been up to.
Looking back at the time of our falling out, we realized that we were both going through rough patches in our own personal lives. Because of that, both of us were less empathetic, more quick to judge, and more insecure than we usually are. And with that, we weren’t willing to listen to the other person and admit to the parts we messed up.
When you’re not in a good place, it is really hard to take ownership and responsibility for your actions. It is difficult to have the self-awareness and the vulnerability required to power through conflicts and find resolution.
Since we’ve reconnected, our friendship does feel different. In a lot of ways, it’s just as comfortable as it’s always been; no one makes me laugh the way my best friend does. But, because we went through a period where we were not present in each other’s lives, we both have a new-found appreciation for one another as individuals and also for our friendship and how it adds value to each our lives. Friendships, like any other relationship, require effort on both sides and a certain degree of openness. That creates a relationship where you are willing to listen to the other person and be flexible.
We are all constantly changing. And, if we’re evolving and growing, the way I hope we are, then that means the relationships we have with other people are also going to inherently change and grow.
If we’re not aware of this, then we continue to measure our expectations based off the past rather than the present in which we live. We set others up for failure and ourselves for disappointment. If we’re willing to acknowledge that people and their circumstances change, then we can apply a growth mindset so that we’re continuously creating better and stronger relationships that make sense.
Falling out of a friendship and then actively re-engaging in it has reminded me that we have full control over the people in our lives, especially for people who are not family.
It is up to us to use good judgement and to decide what standards we hold for people in our lives. It means we have the option of who we choose to keep in our inner circle and who to exclude. In our hearts, I think we all know which people make us feel good and loved and which people have a negative or toxic impact on us. It’s on us to listen to ourselves and to take action if necessary.
Cutting out toxic people doesn’t make you a bad person; it makes you someone with enough self-love to realize when something or someone is taking away from you and your growth. And when that happens, sometimes the best thing you can do for both of you is to set boundaries and disengage from the negativity.
I’m sad that my best friend and I spent eight months in the past year out of contact, but I feel more grateful than ever that she is in my life now.
I feel like I better understand her and also why we always come back to each other. My best friend is smart, ambitious, funny, honest, thoughtful, caring, mentally and emotionally strong; she is the kind of woman who lifts other women up. She inspires me to work hard and pursue my best self because I see her doing the same everyday. Lastly, when I think of our friendship, this Shakespeare quote comes to mind: “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” I can’t wait to continue to grow together.
Have you ever had a falling out with a friend? How did you handle it? What have you learned along the way?